Somalia (/səˈmɑːliə, soʊ-, -ljə/ so-MAH-lee-ə; Somali: Soomaaliya; Arabic: الصومال aṣ-Ṣūmāl), officially the Federal Republic of Somalia (Somali: Jamhuuriyadda Federaalka Soomaaliya, Arabic: جمهورية الصومال الفيدرالية Jumhūrīyat aṣ-Ṣūmāl al-Fidirālīyah), is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Ethiopia to the west, Djibouti to the northwest, the Gulf of Aden to the north, the Indian Ocean to the east, and Kenya to the southwest. Somalia has the longest coastline on Africa's mainland, and its terrain consists mainly of plateaus, plains and highlands. Climatically, hot conditions prevail year-round, with periodic monsoon winds and irregular rainfall.
Somalia has an estimated population of around 14.3 million.
In antiquity, Somalia was an important commercial centre.
The Supreme Revolutionary Council seized power in 1969 and established the Somali Democratic Republic. Led by Mohamed Siad Barre, this government later collapsed in 1991 as the Somali Civil War broke out. Various armed factions began competing for influence in the power vacuum, particularly in the south. During this period, due to the absence of a central government, Somalia was a "failed state", and residents returned to customary and religious law in most regions. A few autonomous regions, including the Somaliland and Puntland administrations emerged in the north. The early 2000s saw the creation of fledgling interim federal administrations. The Transitional National Government (TNG) was established in 2000, followed by the formation of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in 2004, which reestablished national institutions such as the military. In 2006, the TFG, assisted by Ethiopian troops, assumed control of most of the nation's southern conflict zones from the newly formed Islamic Courts Union (ICU). The ICU subsequently splintered into more radical groups such as Al-Shabaab, which battled the TFG and its AMISOM allies for control of the region.
By mid-2012, the insurgents had lost most of the territory that they had seized.
Somalia has been inhabited since at least the Paleolithic. During the Stone Age, the Doian and Hargeisan cultures flourished here. The oldest evidence of burial customs in the Horn of Africa comes from cemeteries in Somalia dating back to the 4th millennium BCE. The stone implements from the Jalelo site in the north were also characterized in 1909 as important artefacts demonstrating the archaeological universality during the Paleolithic between the East and the West.
According to linguists, the first Afroasiatic-speaking populations arrived in the region during the ensuing Neolithic period from the family's proposed urheimat ("original homeland") in the Nile Valley, or the Near East.
The Laas Geel complex on the outskirts of Hargeisa in northwestern Somalia dates back around 5,000 years, and has rock art depicting both wild animals and decorated cows. Other cave paintings are found in the northern Dhambalin region, which feature one of the earliest known depictions of a hunter on horseback. The rock art is in the distinctive Ethiopian-Arabian style, dated to 1,000 to 3,000 BCE. Additionally, between the towns of Las Khorey and El Ayo in northern Somalia lies Karinhegane, the site of numerous cave paintings of real and mythical animals. Each painting has an inscription below it, which collectively have been estimated to be around 2,500 years old.
Ancient pyramidical structures, mausoleums, ruined cities and stone walls, such as the Wargaade Wall, are evidence of an old civilization that once thrived in the Somali peninsula. This civilization enjoyed a trading relationship with ancient Egypt and Mycenaean Greece since the second millennium BCE, supporting the hypothesis that Somalia or adjacent regions were the location of the ancient Land of Punt. The Puntites traded myrrh, spices, gold, ebony, short-horned cattle, ivory and frankincense with the Egyptians, Phoenicians, Babylonians, Indians, Chinese and Romans through their commercial ports. An Egyptian expedition sent to Punt by the 18th dynasty Queen Hatshepsut is recorded on the temple reliefs at Deir el-Bahari, during the reign of the Puntite King Parahu and Queen Ati. In 2015, isotopic analysis of ancient baboon mummies from Punt that had been brought to Egypt as gifts indicated that the specimens likely originated from an area encompassing eastern Somalia and the Eritrea-Ethiopia corridor.
The camel is believed to have been domesticated in the Horn region sometime between the 2nd and 3rd millennium BCE. From there, it spread to Egypt and the Maghreb. During the classical period, the northern Barbara city-states of Mosylon, Opone, Mundus, Isis, Malao, Avalites, Essina, Nikon and Sarapion developed a lucrative trade network, connecting with merchants from Ptolemaic Egypt, Ancient Greece, Phoenicia, Parthian Persia, Saba, the Nabataean Kingdom, and the Roman Empire. They used the ancient Somali maritime vessel known as the beden
After the Roman conquest of the Nabataean Empire and the Roman naval presence at Aden to curb piracy, Arab and Somali merchants agreed with the Romans to bar Indian ships from trading in the free port cities of the Arabian peninsula to protect the interests of Somali and Arab merchants in the lucrative commerce between the Red and Mediterranean Seas. However, Indian merchants continued to trade in the port cities of the Somali peninsula, which was free from Roman interference.
For centuries, Indian merchants brought large quantities of cinnamon to Somalia and Arabia from Ceylon and the Spice Islands. The source of the cinnamon and other spices is said to have been the best-kept secret of Arab and Somali merchants in their trade with the Roman and Greek world; the Romans and Greeks believed the source to have been the Somali peninsula. The collusive agreement among Somali and Arab traders inflated the price of Indian and Chinese cinnamon in North Africa, the Near East, and Europe, and made the cinnamon trade a very profitable revenue generator, especially for the Somali merchants through whose hands large quantities were shipped across sea and land routes.
Islam was introduced to the area early on from the Arabian peninsula, shortly after the hijra. Zeila's two-mihrab Masjid al-Qiblatayn dates to the 7th century, and is the oldest mosque in the city. In the late 9th century, Al-Yaqubi wrote that Muslims were living along the northern Somali seaboard. He also mentioned that the Adal Kingdom had its capital in the city. According to Leo Africanus, the Adal Sultanate was governed by local dynasties established by the Adelites and its realm encompassed the geographical area between the Bab el Mandeb and Cape Guardafui. It was thus flanked to the south by the Mogadishu Sultanate and to the west by the Abyssinian Empire.
In 1332, the Zeila-based King of Adal was slain in a military campaign aimed at halting Abyssinian emperor Amda Seyon I's march toward the city. When the last Sultan of Ifat, Sa'ad ad-Din II, was also killed by Emperor Dawit I in Zeila in 1410, his children escaped to Yemen, before returning in 1415. In the early 15th century, Adal's capital was moved further inland to the town of Dakkar, where Sabr ad-Din II, the eldest son of Sa'ad ad-Din II, established a new base after his return from Yemen.
Adal's headquarters were again relocated the following century, this time southward to Harar. From this new capital, Adal organised an effective army led by Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi (Ahmad "Gurey" or "Gran"; both meaning "the left-handed") that invaded the Abyssinian empire. This 16th-century campaign is historically known as the Conquest of Abyssinia (Futuh al-Habash). During the war, Imam Ahmad pioneered the use of cannons supplied by the Ottoman Empire, which he imported through Zeila and deployed against Abyssinian forces and their Portuguese allies led by Cristóvão da Gama. Some scholars argue that this conflict proved, through their use on both sides, the value of firearms such as the matchlock musket, cannon, and the arquebus over traditional weapons.
During the Ajuran Sultanate period, the sultanates and republics of Merca, Mogadishu, Barawa, Hobyo and their respective ports flourished and had a lucrative foreign commerce, with ships sailing to and coming from Arabia, India, Venetia, Persia, Egypt, Portugal, and as far away as China. Vasco da Gama, who passed by Mogadishu in the 15th century, noted that it was a large city with houses several storeys high and large palaces in its centre, in addition to many mosques with cylindrical minarets. The Harla, an early Hamitic group of tall stature who inhabited parts of Somalia, Tchertcher and other areas in the Horn, also erected various tumuli. These masons are believed to have been ancestral to ethnic Somalis.
In the 16th century, Duarte Barbosa noted that many ships from the Kingdom of Cambaya in modern-day India sailed to Mogadishu with cloth and spices, for which they in return received gold, wax and ivory. Barbosa also highlighted the abundance of meat, wheat, barley, horses, and fruit on the coastal markets, which generated enormous wealth for the merchants. Mogadishu, the center of a thriving textile industry known as toob benadir (specialized for the markets in Egypt, among other places ), together with Merca and Barawa, also served as a transit stop for Swahili merchants from Mombasa and Malindi and for the gold trade from Kilwa. Jewish merchants from the Hormuz brought their Indian textile and fruit to the Somali coast in exchange for grain and wood.
Trading relations were established with Malacca in the 15th century, with cloth, ambergris and porcelain being the main commodities of the trade. Giraffes, zebras and incense were exported to the Ming Empire of China, which established Somali merchants as leaders in the commerce between East Asia and the Horn. Hindu merchants from Surat and Southeast African merchants from Pate, seeking to bypass both the Portuguese blockade and Omani interference, used the Somali ports of Merca and Barawa (which were out of the two powers' jurisdiction) to conduct their trade in safety and without interference.
In the early modern period, successor states to the Adal Sultanate and Ajuran Sultanate began to flourish in Somalia. These included the Warsangali Sultanate, the Bari Dynasties, the Sultanate of the Geledi (Gobroon dynasty), the Majeerteen Sultanate (Migiurtinia), and the Sultanate of Hobyo (Obbia). They continued the tradition of castle-building and seaborne trade established by previous Somali empires.
Sultan Yusuf Mahamud Ibrahim, the third Sultan of the House of Gobroon, started the golden age of the Gobroon Dynasty. His army came out victorious during the Bardheere Jihad, which restored stability in the region and revitalized the East African ivory trade. He also received presents from and had cordial relations with the rulers of neighbouring and distant kingdoms such as the Omani, Witu and Yemeni Sultans.
Sultan Ibrahim's son Ahmed Yusuf succeeded him and was one of the most important figures in 19th-century East Africa, receiving tribute from Omani governors and creating alliances with important Muslim families on the East African coast. In northern Somalia, the Gerad Dynasty conducted trade with Yemen and Persia and competed with the merchants of the Bari Dynasty. The Gerads and the Bari Sultans built impressive palaces and fortresses and had close relations with many different empires in the Near East.
In the late 19th century, after the Berlin conference of 1884, European powers began the Scramble for Africa, which inspired the Dervish leader Mohammed Abdullah Hassan to rally support from across the Horn of Africa and begin one of the longest colonial resistance wars ever. In several of his poems and speeches, Hassan emphasized that the British "have destroyed our religion and made our children their children" and that the Christian Ethiopians in league with the British were bent upon plundering the political and religious freedom of the Somali nation. He soon emerged as "a champion of his country's political and religious freedom, defending it against all Christian invaders".
Hassan issued a religious ordinance stipulating that any Somali national who did not accept the goal of unity of Somalia and would not fight under his leadership would be considered to be kafir, or gaal. He soon acquired weapons from the Ottoman Empire, Sudan, other Islamic and Arabian countries, and appointed ministers and advisers to administer different areas or sectors of Somalia. In addition, he gave a clarion call for Somali unity and independence, in the process organizing his forces.
Hassan's Dervish movement had an essentially military character, and the Dervish state was fashioned on the model of a Salihiya brotherhood.
The dawn of fascism in the early 1920s heralded a change of strategy for Italy, as the north-eastern sultanates were soon to be forced within the boundaries of La Grande Somalia according to the plan of Fascist Italy. With the arrival of Governor Cesare Maria De Vecchi on 15 December 1923, things began to change for that part of Somaliland known as Italian Somaliland. Italy had access to these areas under the successive protection treaties, but not direct rule.
The Fascist government had direct rule only over the Benadir territory. Fascist Italy, under Benito Mussolini, attacked Abyssinia (Ethiopia) in 1935, with an aim to colonize it. The invasion was condemned by the League of Nations, but little was done to stop it or to liberate occupied Ethiopia. On 3 August 1940, Italian troops, including Somali colonial units, crossed from Ethiopia to invade British Somaliland, and by 14 August, succeeded in taking Berbera from the British.
A British force, including troops from several African countries, launched the campaign in January 1941 from Kenya to liberate British Somaliland and Italian-occupied Ethiopia and conquer Italian Somaliland. By February, most of Italian Somaliland was captured and in March, British Somaliland was retaken from the sea. The forces of the British Empire operating in Somaliland comprised the three divisions of South African, West African, and East African troops. They were assisted by Somali forces led by Abdulahi Hassan with Somalis of the Isaaq, Dhulbahante, and Warsangali clans prominently participating. The number of Italian Somalis began to decline after World War II, with fewer than 10,000 remaining in 1960.
Following World War II, Britain retained control of both British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland as protectorates. In 1945, during the Potsdam Conference, the United Nations granted Italy trusteeship of Italian Somaliland as the Trust Territory of Somaliland, on the condition—first proposed by the Somali Youth League (SYL) and other nascent Somali political organizations, such as Hizbia Digil Mirifle Somali (HDMS) and the Somali National League (SNL)—that Somalia achieve independence within ten years. British Somaliland remained a protectorate of Britain until 1960.
To the extent that Italy held the territory by UN mandate, the trusteeship provisions gave the Somalis the opportunity to gain experience in Western political education and self-government.
Meanwhile, in 1948, under pressure from their World War II allies and to the dismay of the Somalis, the British returned the Haud (an important Somali grazing area that was presumably protected by British treaties with the Somalis in 1884 and 1886) and the Ogaden to Ethiopia, based on a treaty they signed in 1897 in which the British ceded Somali territory to the Ethiopian Emperor Menelik in exchange for his help against possible advances by the French.
Britain included the conditional provision that the Somali residents would retain their autonomy, but Ethiopia immediately claimed sovereignty over the area.
A referendum was held in neighbouring Djibouti (then known as French Somaliland) in 1958, on the eve of Somalia's independence in 1960, to decide whether or not to join the Somali Republic or to remain with France. The referendum turned out in favour of a continued association with France, largely due to a combined yes vote by the sizeable Afar ethnic group and resident Europeans. There was also widespread vote rigging, with the French expelling thousands of Somalis before the referendum reached the polls.
The majority of those who voted 'no' were Somalis who were strongly in favour of joining a united Somalia, as had been proposed by Mahmoud Harbi, Vice President of the Government Council. Harbi was killed in a plane crash two years later. Djibouti finally gained its independence from France in 1977, and Hassan Gouled Aptidon, a Somali who had campaigned for a 'yes' vote in the referendum of 1976, eventually became Djibouti's first president (1977–1999).
On 1 July 1960, the two territories united to form the Somali Republic, albeit within boundaries drawn up by Italy and Britain. A government was formed by Abdullahi Issa and Muhammad Haji Ibrahim Egal with other members of the trusteeship and protectorate governments, with Haji Bashir Ismail Yusuf as President of the Somali National Assembly, Aden Abdullah Osman Daar as President of the Somali Republic, and Abdirashid Ali Shermarke as Prime Minister (later to become President from 1967 to 1969). On 20 July 1961 and through a popular referendum, the people of Somalia ratified a new constitution, which was first drafted in 1960. In 1967, Muhammad Haji Ibrahim Egal became Prime Minister, a position to which he was appointed by Shermarke. Egal would later become the President of the autonomous Somaliland region in northwestern Somalia.
On 15 October 1969, while paying a visit to the northern town of Las Anod, Somalia's then President Abdirashid Ali Shermarke was shot dead by one of his own bodyguards. His assassination was quickly followed by a military coup d'état on 21 October 1969 (the day after his funeral), in which the Somali Army seized power without encountering armed opposition — essentially a bloodless takeover. The putsch was spearheaded by Major General Mohamed Siad Barre, who at the time commanded the army.
Alongside Barre, the Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC) that assumed power after President Sharmarke's assassination was led by Lieutenant Colonel Salaad Gabeyre Kediye and Chief of Police Jama Korshel. Kediye officially held the title "Father of the Revolution", and Barre shortly afterwards became the head of the SRC. The SRC subsequently renamed the country the Somali Democratic Republic, dissolved the parliament and the Supreme Court, and suspended the constitution.
The revolutionary army established large-scale public works programs and successfully implemented an urban and rural literacy campaign, which helped dramatically increase the literacy rate. In addition to a nationalization program of industry and land, the new regime's foreign policy placed an emphasis on Somalia's traditional and religious links with the Arab world, eventually joining the Arab League (AL) in 1974. That same year, Barre also served as chairman of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor of the African Union (AU).
In July 1976, Barre's SRC disbanded itself and established in its place the Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party (SRSP), a one-party government based on scientific socialism and Islamic tenets. The SRSP was an attempt to reconcile the official state ideology with the official state religion by adapting Marxist precepts to local circumstances. Emphasis was placed on the Muslim principles of social progress, equality and justice, which the government argued formed the core of scientific socialism and its own accent on self-sufficiency, public participation and popular control, as well as direct ownership of the means of production. While the SRSP encouraged private investment on a limited scale, the administration's overall direction was essentially communist.
In July 1977, the Ogaden War broke out after Barre's government played the national unity card to justify an aggressive incorporation of the predominantly Somali-inhabited Ogaden region of Ethiopia into a Pan-Somali Greater Somalia, along with the rich agricultural lands of south-eastern Ethiopia, infrastructure, and strategically important areas as far north as Djibouti. In the first week of the conflict, Somali armed forces took southern and central Ogaden and for most of the war, the Somali army scored continuous victories on the Ethiopian army and followed them as far as Sidamo. By September 1977, Somalia controlled 90% of the Ogaden and captured strategic cities such as Jijiga and put heavy pressure on Dire Dawa, threatening the train route from the latter city to Djibouti. After the siege of Harar, a massive unprecedented Soviet intervention consisting of 20,000 Cuban forces and several thousand Soviet experts came to the aid of Ethiopia's communist Derg regime. By 1978, the Somali troops were ultimately pushed out of the Ogaden. This shift in support by the Soviet Union motivated the Barre government to seek allies elsewhere. It eventually settled on the Soviets'Cold War arch-rival, the United States, which had been courting the Somali government for some time. All in all, Somalia's initial friendship with the Soviet Union and later partnership with the United States enabled it to build the largest army in Africa.
A new constitution was promulgated in 1979 under which elections for a People's Assembly were held.
The regime was weakened further in the 1980s as the Cold War drew to a close and Somalia's strategic importance was diminished.
During 1990, in the capital city of Mogadishu, the residents were prohibited from gathering publicly in groups greater than three or four.
A thriving black market existed in the centre of the city as banks experienced shortages of local currency for exchange.
In 1991, the Barre administration was ousted by a coalition of clan-based opposition groups, backed by Ethiopia's then-ruling Derg regime and Libya. Following a meeting of the Somali National Movement and northern clans' elders, the northern former British portion of the country declared its independence as Somaliland in May 1991. Although de facto independent and relatively stable compared to the tumultuous south, it has not been recognized by any foreign government.
Many of the opposition groups subsequently began competing for influence in the power vacuum that followed the ouster of Barre's regime.
Due to the legitimacy bestowed on Muhammad by the Djibouti conference, he was subsequently recognized by the international community as the new President of Somalia.
In the early 1990s, due to the protracted lack of a permanent central authority, Somalia began to be characterized as a "failed state". Political scientist Ken Menkhaus argues that evidence suggested that the nation had already attained failed state status by the mid-1980s, while Robert I. Rotberg similarly posits that the state failure had preceded the ouster of the Barre administration. Hoehne (2009), Branwen (2009) and Verhoeven (2009) also used Somalia during this period as a case study to critique various aspects of the "state failure" discourse.
UN Security Council Resolution 733 and UN Security Council Resolution 746 led to the creation of UNOSOM I, the first mission to provide humanitarian relief and help restore order in Somalia after the dissolution of its central government. United Nations Security Council Resolution 794 was unanimously passed on 3 December 1992, which approved a coalition of United Nations peacekeepers led by the United States. Forming the Unified Task Force (UNITAF), the alliance was tasked with assuring security until humanitarian efforts aimed at stabilizing the situation were transferred to the UN. Landing in 1993, the UN peacekeeping coalition started the two-year United Nations Operation in Somalia II (UNOSOM II) primarily in the south. UNITAF's original mandate was to use "all necessary means" to guarantee the delivery of humanitarian aid in accordance to Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, and is regarded as a success.
Aidid saw UNOSOM II as a threat to his power and in June 1993 his militia attacked Pakistan Army troops, attached to UNOSOM II, (see Somalia (March 1992 to February 1996)) in Mogadishu inflicting over 80 casualties. Fighting escalated until 19 American troops and more than 1,000 civilians and militia were killed in a raid in Mogadishu during October 1993. The UN withdrew Operation United Shield on 3 March 1995, having suffered significant casualties, and with the rule of government still not restored. In August 1996, Aidid was killed in Mogadishu. Former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali and Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, UN special envoy to Somalia have referred to the killing of civilians during the conflict as a "genocide".
Under the auspices of the UN, AU, Arab League and IGAD, a series of additional national reconciliation conferences were subsequently held as part of the peace process.
Following the outbreak of the civil war, many of Somalia's residents left in search of asylum.
A consequence of the collapse of governmental authority that accompanied the civil war was the emergence of piracy in the unpatrolled Indian Ocean waters off of the coast of Somalia. The phenomenon arose as an attempt by local fishermen to protect their livelihood from illegal fishing by foreign trawlers. In August 2008, a multinational coalition took on the task of combating the piracy by establishing a Maritime Security Patrol Area (MSPA) within the Gulf of Aden. A maritime police force was also later formed in the Puntland region, and best management practices, including hiring private armed guards, were adopted by ship owners. These combined efforts led to a sharp decline in incidents. By October 2012, pirate attacks had dropped to a six-year low, with only 1 ship attacked in the third quarter compared to 36 during the same period in 2011.
The Transitional National Government (TNG) was established in April–May 2000 at the Somalia National Peace Conference (SNPC) held in Arta, Djibouti.
On October 10, 2004, legislators elected Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed as the first President of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), the Transitional National Government's successor. the TFG was the second interim administration aiming to restore national institutions to Somalia after the 1991 collapse of the Siad Barre regime and the ensuing civil war.
The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) was the internationally recognised government of Somalia until 20 August 2012, when its tenure officially ended. It was established as one of the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs) of government as defined in the Transitional Federal Charter (TFC) adopted in November 2004 by the Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP). The Transitional Federal Government officially comprised the executive branch of government, with the TFP serving as the legislative branch. The government was headed by the President of Somalia, to whom the cabinet reported through the Prime Minister. However, it was also used as a general term to refer to all three branches collectively.
In 2006, the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), an Islamist organization, assumed control of much of the southern part of the country and promptly imposed Shari'a law. The Transitional Federal Government sought to reestablish its authority, and, with the assistance of Ethiopian troops, African Union peacekeepers and air support by the United States, managed to drive out the rival ICU and solidify its rule.
On 8 January 2007, as the Battle of Ras Kamboni raged, TFG President and founder Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, a former colonel in the Somali Army and decorated war hero, entered Mogadishu with the Ethiopian military support for the first time since being elected to office. The government then relocated to Villa Somalia in the capital from its interim location in Baidoa. This marked the first time since the fall of the Siad Barre regime in 1991 that the federal government controlled most of the country.
Following this defeat, the Islamic Courts Union splintered into several different factions.
Due to a lack of funding and human resources, an arms embargo that made it difficult to re-establish a national security force, and general indifference on the part of the international community, President Yusuf found himself obliged to deploy thousands of troops from Puntland to Mogadishu to sustain the battle against insurgent elements in the southern part of the country. Financial support for this effort was provided by the autonomous region's government. This left little revenue for Puntland's own security forces and civil service employees, leaving the territory vulnerable to piracy and terrorist attacks.
On 29 December 2008, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed announced before a united parliament in Baidoa his resignation as President of Somalia. In his speech, which was broadcast on national radio, Yusuf expressed regret at failing to end the country's seventeen-year conflict as his government had been mandated to do. He also blamed the international community for its failure to support the government, and said that the speaker of parliament would succeed him in office per the Charter of the Transitional Federal Government.
Between 31 May and 9 June 2008, representatives of Somalia's federal government and the moderate Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) group of Islamist rebels participated in peace talks in Djibouti brokered by the former United Nations Special Envoy to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah. The conference ended with a signed agreement calling for the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops in exchange for the cessation of armed confrontation. Parliament was subsequently expanded to 550 seats to accommodate ARS members, which then elected Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the former ARS chairman, to office. President Sharif shortly afterwards appointed Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, the son of slain former President Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, as the nation's new Prime Minister.
With the help of a small team of African Union troops, the coalition government also began a counteroffensive in February 2009 to assume full control of the southern half of the country. To solidify its rule, the TFG formed an alliance with the Islamic Courts Union, other members of the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia, and Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a, a moderate Sufi militia. Furthermore, Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam, the two main Islamist groups in opposition, began to fight amongst themselves in mid-2009.
As a truce, in March 2009, Somalia's coalition government announced that it would re-implement Shari'a as the nation's official judicial system.
During the coalition government's brief tenure and one year afterwards, due to the protracted lack of a permanent central authority, the Fund For Peace's Fragile States Index (FSI; formerly known as the Failed States Index) listed Somalia on top for six consecutive years between 2008 and 2013. In 2009, Transparency International ranked the nation in last place on its annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), a metric that purports to show the prevalence of corruption in a country's public sector. In mid-2010, the Institute for Economics and Peace also ranked Somalia in the next-to-last position in between war-afflicted Iraq and Afghanistan on its Global Peace Index.
On 14 October 2010, diplomat Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (Farmajo) was appointed the new Prime Minister of Somalia. The former Premier Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke resigned the month before following a protracted dispute with President Sharif over a proposed draft constitution. Per the Transitional Federal Charter of the Somali Republic, Prime Minister Mohamed named a new Cabinet on 12 November 2010, which was lauded by the international community. As had been expected, the allotted ministerial positions were significantly reduced in numbers from 39 to 18.
Additional members of the Independent Constitutional Commission were also appointed to engage Somali constitutional lawyers, religious scholars and experts in Somali culture over the nation's upcoming new constitution, a key part of the government's Transitional Federal Tasks.
On 19 June 2011, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed resigned from his position as Prime Minister of Somalia.
In October 2011, a coordinated operation, Operation Linda Nchi between the Somali and Kenyan militaries and multinational forces began against the Al-Shabaab group of insurgents in southern Somalia. A joint communiqué was issued indicating that Somali forces were leading operations. By September 2012, Somali, Kenyan, and Raskamboni forces had managed to capture Al-Shabaab's last major stronghold, the southern port of Kismayo. In July 2012, three European Union operations were also launched to engage with Somalia: EUTM Somalia, EU Naval Force Somalia Operation Atalanta off the Horn of Africa, and EUCAP Nestor.
As part of the official "Roadmap for the End of Transition", a political process that provided clear benchmarks leading toward the formation of permanent democratic institutions in Somalia, the Transitional Federal Government's interim mandate ended on 20 August 2012.
The Federal Government of Somalia, the first permanent central government in the country since the start of the civil war, was later established in August 2012. By 2014, Somalia was no longer at the top of the fragile states index, dropping to second place behind South Sudan. UN Special Representative to Somalia Nicholas Kay, European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton and other international stakeholders and analysts have also begun to describe Somalia as a "fragile state" that is making some progress towards stability. In August 2014, the Somali government-led Operation Indian Ocean was launched against insurgent-held pockets in the countryside. The war continues in 2017.
Somalia is officially divided into eighteen regions (gobollada, singular gobol), which in turn are subdivided into districts. The regions are:
Northern Somalia is now de facto divided up among the autonomous regions of Puntland (which considers itself an autonomous state) and Somaliland (a self-declared but unrecognized sovereign state). In central Somalia, Galmudug is another regional entity that emerged just south of Puntland. Jubaland in the far south is a fourth autonomous region within the federation. In 2014, a new South West State was likewise established. In April 2015, a formation conference was also launched for a new Central Regions State.
The Federal Parliament is tasked with selecting the ultimate number and boundaries of the autonomous regional states (officially Federal Member States) within the Federal Republic of Somalia.
Somalia is bordered by Djibouti to the northwest, Kenya to the southwest, the Gulf of Aden to the north, the Indian Ocean to the east, and Ethiopia to the west. It lies between latitudes 2°S and 12°N, and longitudes 41° and 52°E. Strategically located at the mouth of the Bab el Mandeb gateway to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, the country occupies the tip of a region that, due to its resemblance on the map to a rhinoceros' horn, is commonly referred to as the Horn of Africa.
Somalia has the longest coastline on the mainland of Africa, with a seaboard that stretches 3,025 kilometres (1,880 mi). Its terrain consists mainly of plateaus, plains and highlands. The nation has a total area of 637,657 square kilometres (246,201 sq mi) of which constitutes land, with 10,320 square kilometres (3,980 sq mi) of water. Somalia's land boundaries extend to about 2,340 kilometres (1,450 mi); 58 kilometres (36 mi) of that is shared with Djibouti, 682 kilometres (424 mi) with Kenya, and 1,626 kilometres (1,010 mi) with Ethiopia. Its maritime claims include territorial waters of 200 nautical miles (370 km; 230 mi).
In the north, a scrub-covered, semi-desert plain referred as the Guban lies parallel to the Gulf of Aden littoral. With a width of twelve kilometres in the west to as little as two kilometres in the east, the plain is bisected by watercourses that are essentially beds of dry sand except during the rainy seasons. When the rains arrive, the Guban's low bushes and grass clumps transform into lush vegetation. This coastal strip is part of the Ethiopian xeric grasslands and shrublands ecoregion.
Cal Madow is a mountain range in the northeastern part of the country. Extending from several kilometres west of the city of Bosaso to the northwest of Erigavo, it features Somalia's highest peak, Shimbiris, which sits at an elevation of about 2,416 metres (7,927 ft). The rugged east-west ranges of the Karkaar Mountains also lie to the interior of the Gulf of Aden littoral. In the central regions, the country's northern mountain ranges give way to shallow plateaus and typically dry watercourses that are referred to locally as the Ogo. The Ogo's western plateau, in turn, gradually merges into the Haud, an important grazing area for livestock.
Somalia has only two permanent rivers, the Jubba and Shabele, both of which begin in the Ethiopian Highlands. These rivers mainly flow southwards, with the Jubba River entering the Indian Ocean at Kismayo. The Shabele River at one time apparently used to enter the sea near Merca, but now reaches a point just southwest of Mogadishu. After that, it consists of swamps and dry reaches before finally disappearing in the desert terrain east of Jilib, near the Jubba River.
Somalia is a semi-arid country with about 1.64% arable land. The first local environmental organizations were Ecoterra Somalia and the Somali Ecological Society, both of which helped promote awareness about ecological concerns and mobilized environmental programs in all governmental sectors as well as in civil society. From 1971 onwards, a massive tree-planting campaign on a nationwide scale was introduced by the Siad Barre government to halt the advance of thousands of acres of wind-driven sand dunes that threatened to engulf towns, roads and farm land. By 1988, 265 hectares of a projected 336 hectares had been treated, with 39 range reserve sites and 36 forestry plantation sites established. In 1986, the Wildlife Rescue, Research and Monitoring Centre was established by Ecoterra Intl., with the goal of sensitizing the public to ecological issues. This educational effort led in 1989 to the so-called "Somalia proposal" and a decision by the Somali government to adhere to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which established for the first time a worldwide ban on the trade of elephant ivory.
Later, Fatima Jibrell, a prominent Somali environmental activist, mounted a successful campaign to salvage old-growth forests of acacia trees in the northeastern part of Somalia. These trees, which can live for 500 years, were being cut down to make charcoal since this so-called "black gold" is highly in demand in the Arabian Peninsula, where the region's Bedouin tribes believe the acacia to be sacred. However, while being a relatively inexpensive fuel that meets a user's needs, the production of charcoal often leads to deforestation and desertification. As a way of addressing this problem, Jibrell and the Horn of Africa Relief and Development Organization (Horn Relief; now Adeso), an organization of which she was the founder and Executive Director, trained a group of teens to educate the public on the permanent damage that producing charcoal can create. In 1999, Horn Relief coordinated a peace march in the northeastern Puntland region of Somalia to put an end to the so-called "charcoal wars". As a result of Jibrell's lobbying and education efforts, the Puntland government in 2000 prohibited the exportation of charcoal. The government has also since enforced the ban, which has reportedly led to an 80% drop in exports of the product. Jibrell was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2002 for her efforts against environmental degradation and desertification. In 2008, she also won the National Geographic Society / Buffett Foundation Award for Leadership in Conservation.
Following the massive tsunami of December 2004, there have also emerged allegations that after the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in the late 1980s, Somalia's long, remote shoreline was used as a dump site for the disposal of toxic waste. The huge waves that battered northern Somalia after the tsunami are believed to have stirred up tons of nuclear and toxic waste that might have been dumped illegally in the country by foreign firms.
The European Green Party followed up these revelations by presenting before the press and the European Parliament in Strasbourg copies of contracts signed by two European companies — the Italian Swiss firm, Achair Partners, and an Italian waste broker, Progresso — and representatives of the then "President" of Somalia, the faction leader Ali Mahdi Mohamed, to accept 10 million tonnes of toxic waste in exchange for $80 million (then about £60 million).
According to reports by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the waste has resulted in far higher than normal cases of respiratory infections, mouth ulcers and bleeding, abdominal haemorrhages and unusual skin infections among many inhabitants of the areas around the northeastern towns of Hobyo and Benadir on the Indian Ocean coast — diseases consistent with radiation sickness. UNEP adds that the current situation along the Somali coastline poses a very serious environmental hazard not only in Somalia, but also in the eastern Africa sub-region.
Due to Somalia's proximity to the equator, there is not much seasonal variation in its climate. Hot conditions prevail year-round along with periodic monsoon winds and irregular rainfall. Mean daily maximum temperatures range from 30 to 40 °C (86 to 104 °F), except at higher elevations along the eastern seaboard, where the effects of a cold offshore current can be felt. In Mogadishu, for instance, average afternoon highs range from 28 to 32 °C (82 to 90 °F) in April. Some of the highest mean annual temperatures in the world have been recorded in the country; Berbera on the northwestern coast has an afternoon high that averages more than 38 °C (100 °F) from June through September. Nationally, mean daily minimums usually vary from about 15 to 30 °C (59 to 86 °F). The greatest range in climate occurs in northern Somalia, where temperatures sometimes surpass 45 °C (113 °F) in July on the littoral plains and drop below the freezing point during December in the highlands. In this region, relative humidity ranges from about 40% in the mid-afternoon to 85% at night, changing somewhat according to the season.
Unlike the climates of most other countries at this latitude, conditions in Somalia range from arid in the northeastern and central regions to semiarid in the northwest and south. In the northeast, annual rainfall is less than 100 mm (4 in); in the central plateaus, it is about 200 to 300 mm (8 to 12 in). The northwestern and southwestern parts of the nation, however, receive considerably more rain, with an average of 510 to 610 mm (20 to 24 in) falling per year. Although the coastal regions are hot and humid throughout the year, the hinterland is typically dry and hot.
There are four main seasons around which pastoral and agricultural life revolve, and these are dictated by shifts in the wind patterns.
Somalia contains a variety of mammals due to its geographical and climatic diversity.
Somalia is currently home to around 727 species of birds.
Somalia's territorial waters are prime fishing grounds for highly migratory marine species, such as tuna.
There are roughly 235 species of reptiles.
Politics and government
Somalia is a parliamentary representative democratic republic. The President of Somalia is the head of state and commander-in-chief of the Somali Armed Forces and selects a Prime Minister to act as head of government.
The Federal Parliament of Somalia is the national parliament of Somalia, the bicameral National Legislature, consisting of House of Representatives (lower house) and senate (upper house).
On 10 September 2012, parliament elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as the new President of Somalia. President Mohamud later appointed Abdi Farah Shirdon as the new Prime Minister on 6 October 2012, who was succeeded in office by Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed on 21 December 2013. On 17 December 2014, former Premier Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke was reappointed Prime Minister.
The Judiciary of Somalia is defined by the Provisional Constitution of the Federal Republic of Somalia. Adopted on 1 August 2012 by a National Constitutional Assembly in Mogadishu, Banaadir, the document was formulated by a committee of specialists chaired by attorney and incumbent Speaker of the Federal Parliament, Mohamed Osman Jawari. It provides the legal foundation for the existence of the Federal Republic and source of legal authority.
The national court structure is organized into three tiers: the Constitutional Court, Federal Government level courts and State level courts. A nine-member Judicial Service Commission appoints any Federal tier member of the judiciary. It also selects and presents potential Constitutional Court judges to the House of the People of the Federal Parliament for approval. If endorsed, the President appoints the candidate as a judge of the Constitutional Court. The five-member Constitutional Court adjudicates issues pertaining to the constitution, in addition to various Federal and sub-national matters.
According to Article 54 of the national constitution, the allocation of powers and resources between the Federal Government and the Federal Republic of Somalia's constituent Federal Member States shall be negotiated and agreed upon by the Federal Government and the Federal Member States, except in matters pertaining to foreign affairs, national defence, citizenship and immigration, and monetary policy.
The Federal Government maintains bilateral relations with a number of other central governments in the international community. Among these are Djibouti, Ethiopia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Turkey, Italy, the United Kingdom, Denmark, France, the United States, the People's Republic of China, Japan, Russian Federation and South Korea.
Somalia is also a member of many international organizations, such as the United Nations, African Union and Arab League. It was a founding member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in 1969. Other memberships include the African Development Bank, Group of 77, Intergovernmental Authority on Development, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Civil Aviation Organization, International Development Association, International Finance Corporation, Non-Aligned Movement, World Federation of Trade Unions and World Meteorological Organization.
The Somali Armed Forces (SAF) are the military forces of the Federal Republic of Somalia. Headed by the President as Commander in Chief, they are constitutionally mandated to ensure the nation's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.
The SAF was initially made up of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Police Force and the National Security Service. In the post-independence period, it grew to become among the larger militaries on the continent. The subsequent outbreak of the civil war in 1991 led to the disbandment of the Somali National Army.
In 2004, the gradual process of reconstituting the military was put in motion with the establishment of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG).
According to the CIA and the Central Bank of Somalia, despite experiencing civil unrest, Somalia has maintained a healthy informal economy, based mainly on livestock, remittance / money transfer companies and telecommunications. Due to a dearth of formal government statistics and the recent civil war, it is difficult to gauge the size or growth of the economy. For 1994, the CIA estimated the GDP at $3.3 billion. In 2001, it was estimated to be $4.1 billion. By 2009, the CIA estimated that the GDP had grown to $5.731 billion, with a projected real growth rate of 2.6%. According to a 2007 British Chambers of Commerce report, the private sector also grew, particularly in the service sector. Unlike the pre-civil war period when most services and the industrial sector were government-run, there has been substantial, albeit unmeasured, private investment in commercial activities; this has been largely financed by the Somali diaspora, and includes trade and marketing, money transfer services, transportation, communications, fishery equipment, airlines, telecommunications, education, health, construction and hotels. Libertarian economist Peter Leeson attributes this increased economic activity to the Somali customary law (referred to as Xeer ), which he suggests provides a stable environment to conduct business in.
According to the Central Bank of Somalia, the country's GDP per capita as of 2012 is $226, a slight reduction in real terms from 1990.
Somalia's economy consists of both traditional and modern production, with a gradual shift toward modern industrial techniques.
Agriculture is the most important economic sector of Somalia. It accounts for about 65% of the GDP and employs 65% of the workforce. Livestock contributes about 40% to GDP and more than 50% of export earnings. Other principal exports include fish, charcoal and bananas; sugar, sorghum and corn are products for the domestic market. According to the Central Bank of Somalia, imports of goods total about $460 million per year, surpassing aggregate imports prior to the start of the civil war in 1991. Exports, which total about $270 million annually, have also surpassed pre-war aggregate export levels. Somalia has a trade deficit of about $190 million per year, but this is exceeded by remittances sent by Somalis in the diaspora, estimated to be about $1 billion.
With the advantage of being located near the Arabian Peninsula, Somali traders have increasingly begun to challenge Australia's traditional dominance over the Gulf Arab livestock and meat market, offering quality animals at very low prices. In response, Gulf Arab states have started to make strategic investments in the country, with Saudi Arabia building livestock export infrastructure and the United Arab Emirates purchasing large farmlands. Somalia is also a major world supplier of frankincense and myrrh.
The modest industrial sector, based on the processing of agricultural products, accounts for 10% of Somalia's GDP. According to the Somali Chamber of Commerce and Industry, over six private airline firms also offer commercial flights to both domestic and international locations, including Daallo Airlines, Jubba Airways, African Express Airways, East Africa 540, Central Air and Hajara. In 2008, the Puntland government signed a multimillion-dollar deal with Dubai's Lootah Group, a regional industrial group operating in the Middle East and Africa. According to the agreement, the first phase of the investment is worth Dhs 170 m and will see a set of new companies established to operate, manage and build Bosaso's free trade zone and sea and airport facilities. The Bosaso Airport Company is slated to develop the airport complex to meet international standards, including a new 3,400 m (11,200 ft) runway, main and auxiliary buildings, taxi and apron areas, and security perimeters.
Prior to the outbreak of the civil war in 1991, the roughly 53 state-owned small, medium and large manufacturing firms were foundering, with the ensuing conflict destroying many of the remaining industries.
The Central Bank of Somalia is the official monetary authority of Somalia. In terms of financial management, it is in the process of assuming the task of both formulating and implementing monetary policy.
Owing to a lack of confidence in the local currency, the US dollar is widely accepted as a medium of exchange alongside the Somali shilling. Dollarization notwithstanding, the large issuance of the Somali shilling has increasingly fuelled price hikes, especially for low value transactions. According to the Central Bank, this inflationary environment is expected to come to an end as soon as the bank assumes full control of monetary policy and replaces the presently circulating currency introduced by the private sector.
Although Somalia has had no central monetary authority for more than 15 years between the outbreak of the civil war in 1991 and the subsequent re-establishment of the Central Bank of Somalia in 2009, the nation's payment system is fairly advanced primarily due to the widespread existence of private money transfer operators (MTO) that have acted as informal banking networks.
These remittance firms (hawalas ) have become a large industry in Somalia, with an estimated $1.6 billion USD annually remitted to the region by Somalis in the diaspora via money transfer companies. Most are members of the Somali Money Transfer Association (SOMTA), an umbrella organization that regulates the community's money transfer sector, or its predecessor, the Somali Financial Services Association (SFSA). The largest of the Somali MTOs is Dahabshiil, a Somali-owned firm employing more than 2000 people across 144 countries with branches in London and Dubai.
As the reconstituted Central Bank of Somalia fully assumes its monetary policy responsibilities, some of the existing money transfer companies are expected in the near future to seek licenses so as to develop into full-fledged commercial banks.
With a significant improvement in local security, Somali expatriates began returning to the country for investment opportunities.
The Somalia Stock Exchange (SSE) is the national bourse of Somalia. It was founded in 2012 by the Somali diplomat Idd Mohamed, Ambassador extraordinary and deputy permanent representative to the United Nations. The SSE was established to attract investment from both Somali-owned firms and global companies in order to accelerate the ongoing post-conflict reconstruction process in Somalia.
The World Bank reports that electricity is now in large part supplied by local businesses. Among these domestic firms is the Somali Energy Company, which performs generation, transmission and distribution of electric power. In 2010, the nation produced 310 million kWh and consumed 288.3 million kWh of electricity, ranked 170th and 177th, respectively, by the CIA.
Somalia has reserves of several natural resources, including uranium, iron ore, tin, gypsum, bauxite, copper, salt and natural gas. The CIA reports that there are 5.663 billion cu m of proven natural gas reserves.
Due to its proximity and geological similarity to the oil-rich Gulf Arab states such as Yemen, energy industry representatives believe that the nation contains substantial unexploited reserves of oil. However, the presence or extent of proven oil reserves in Somalia is uncertain. The CIA asserts that as of 2011 there are no proven reserves of oil in the country, while UNCTAD suggests that most proven oil reserves in Somalia lie off its northwestern coast, in the Somaliland region. A survey of Northeast Africa by the World Bank and UN ranked Somalia second only to Sudan as the top prospective producer. An oil group listed in Sydney, Range Resources, estimates that the Puntland region in the northeast has the potential to produce 5 billion barrels (790 ×10 ^ 6 m 3) to 10 billion barrels (1.6 ×10 ^ 9 m 3) of oil, compared to the 6.7 billion barrels of proven oil reserves in Sudan. As a result of these developments, the Somalia Petroleum Corporation was established by the federal government.
In the late 1960s, UN geologists also discovered major uranium deposits and other rare mineral reserves in Somalia.
The Trans-National Industrial Electricity and Gas Company is an energy conglomerate based in Mogadishu. It unites five major Somali companies from the trade, finance, security and telecommunications sectors, following a 2010 joint agreement signed in Istanbul to provide electricity and gas infrastructure in Somalia. With an initial investment budget of $1 billion, the company launched the Somalia Peace Dividend Project, a labour-intensive energy program aimed at facilitating local industrialization initiatives.
According to the Central Bank of Somalia, as the nation embarks on the path of reconstruction, the economy is expected to not only match its pre-civil war levels, but also to accelerate in growth and development due to Somalia's untapped natural resources.
After the start of the civil war, various new telecommunications companies began to spring up and compete to provide missing infrastructure.
After forming partnerships with multinational corporations such as Sprint, ITT and Telenor, these firms now offer the cheapest and clearest phone calls in Africa. These Somali telecommunication companies also provide services to every city, town and hamlet in Somalia. There are presently around 25 mainlines per 1,000 persons, and the local availability of telephone lines (tele-density) is higher than in neighbouring countries; three times greater than in adjacent Ethiopia. Prominent Somali telecommunications companies include Golis Telecom Group, Hormuud Telecom, Somafone, Nationlink, Netco, Telcom and Somali Telecom Group. Hormuud Telecom alone grosses about $40 million a year. Despite their rivalry, several of these companies signed an interconnectivity deal in 2005 that allows them to set prices, maintain and expand their networks, and ensure that competition does not get out of control.
Investment in the telecom industry is held to be one of the clearest signs that Somalia's economy has continued to develop despite civil strife in parts of the country.
The state-run Somali National Television is the principal national public service TV channel. After a 20-year hiatus, the station was officially re-launched on 4 April 2011. Its radio counterpart Radio Mogadishu also broadcasts from the capital. Somaliland National TV and Puntland TV and Radio air from the northern regions.
Additionally, Somalia has several private television and radio networks.
The internet country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for Somalia is .so. It was officially relaunched on 1 November 2010 by.SO Registry, which is regulated by the nation's Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.
On 22 March 2012, the Somali Cabinet also unanimously approved the National Communications Act.
In November 2013, following a Memorandum of Understanding signed with Emirates Post in April of the year, the federal Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications officially reconstituted the Somali Postal Service (Somali Post). In October 2014, the ministry also relaunched postal delivery from abroad. The postal system is slated to be implemented in each of the country's 18 administrative provinces via a new postal coding and numbering system.
Somalia has a number of local attractions, consisting of historical sites, beaches, waterfalls, mountain ranges and national parks.
Notable sights include the Laas Geel caves containing Neolithic rock art; the Cal Madow, Golis Mountains and Ogo Mountains; the Iskushuban and Lamadaya waterfalls; and the Hargeisa National Park, Jilib National Park, Kismayo National Park and Lag Badana National Park.
Somalia's network of roads is 22,100 km (13,700 mi) long.
The Somali Civil Aviation Authority (SOMCAA) is Somalia's national civil aviation authority body. After a long period of management by the Civil Aviation Caretaker Authority for Somalia (CACAS), SOMCAA is slated to reassume control of Somalia's airspace by 31 December 2013. In preparation for the transition, staff within Somalia are receiving training, with over 100 airspace personnel scheduled to be transferred to Mogadishu for management duties.
62 airports in various cities across Somalia accommodate aerial transportation; 7 of these have paved runways.
Established in 1964, Somali Airlines was the flag carrier of Somalia. It suspended operations during the civil war. However, a reconstituted Somali government later began preparations in 2012 for an expected relaunch of the airline, with the first new Somali Airlines aircraft scheduled for delivery by the end of December 2013. According to the Somali Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the void created by the closure of Somali Airlines has since been filled by various Somali-owned private carriers. Over six of these private airline firms offer commercial flights to both domestic and international locations, including Daallo Airlines, Jubba Airways, African Express Airways, East Africa 540, Central Air and Hajara. Besides, Turkish Airlines began flying twice weekly from Istanbul to Mogadishu in 2012.
Possessing the longest coastline on the continent, Somalia has several major seaports. Maritime transport facilities are found in the port cities of Mogadishu, Bosaso, Berbera, Kismayo and Merca. There is also one merchant marine. Established in 2008, it is cargo-based.
Somalia had an estimated population of around 14.3 million inhabitants in 2016; the total population according to the 1975 census was 3.3 million.
Non-Somali ethnic minority groups make up the remainder of Somalia's population, and are largely concentrated in the southern regions.
Somalia's population is expanding at a growth rate of 1.75% per annum and a birth rate of 40.87 births/1,000 people.
There is little reliable statistical information on urbanization in Somalia. Rough estimates have been made indicating a rate of urbanization of 4.79% per annum (2005–10 est.), with many towns quickly growing into cities. Many ethnic minorities have also moved from rural areas to urban centres since the onset of the civil war, particularly to Mogadishu and Kismayo. As of 2008, 37.7% of the nation's population live in towns and cities, with the percentage rapidly increasing.
Somali and Arabic are the official languages of Somalia. The Somali language is the mother tongue of the Somali people, the nation's most populous ethnic group. It is a member of the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family, and its nearest relatives are the Oromo, Afar and Saho languages. Somali is the best documented of the Cushitic languages, with academic studies of it dating from before 1900.
Somali dialects are divided into three main groups: Northern, Benadir and Maay. Northern Somali (or Northern-Central Somali) forms the basis for Standard Somali. Benadir (also known as Coastal Somali) is spoken on the Benadir coast, from Adale to south of Merca including Mogadishu, as well as in the immediate hinterland. The coastal dialects have additional phonemes that do not exist in Standard Somali. Maay is principally spoken by the Digil and Mirifle (Rahanweyn) clans in the southern areas of Somalia.
A number of writing systems have been used over the years for transcribing the Somali language. Of these, the Somali alphabet is the most widely used, and has been the official writing script in Somalia since the Supreme Revolutionary Council formally introduced it in October 1972. The script was developed by the Somali linguist Shire Jama Ahmed specifically for the Somali language, and uses all letters of the English Latin alphabet except p, v and z. Besides Ahmed's Latin script, other orthographies that have been used for centuries for writing Somali include the long-established Arabic script and Wadaad writing. Indigenous writing systems developed in the 20th century include the Osmanya, Borama and Kaddare scripts, which were invented by Osman Yusuf Kenadid, Sheikh Abdurahman Sheikh Nuur and Hussein Sheikh Ahmed Kaddare, respectively.
In addition to Somali, Arabic, which is also an Afro-Asiatic tongue, is an official national language in Somalia.
English is widely spoken and taught. It used to be a working language in the British Somaliland protectorate. Italian was an official language in Italian Somaliland and during the trusteeship period, but its use significantly diminished following independence. It is now most frequently heard among older generations. Other minority languages include Bravanese, a variant of the Bantu Swahili language that is spoken along the coast by the Bravanese people, as well as Kibajuni, a Swahili dialect that is the mother tongue of the Bajuni minority ethnic group.
According to the Pew Research Center, 99.8% of Somalia's population is Muslim. The majority belong to the Sunni branch of Islam and the Shafi'i school of Islamic jurisprudence. Sufism, the mystical dimension of Islam, is also well established, with many local jama'a (zawiya ) or congregations of the various tariiqa or Sufi orders. The constitution of Somalia likewise defines Islam as the state religion of the Federal Republic of Somalia, and Islamic sharia as the basic source for national legislation. It also stipulates that no law that is inconsistent with the basic tenets of Shari'a can be enacted.
Islam entered the region very early on, as a group of persecuted Muslims had sought refuge across the Red Sea in the Horn of Africa at the urging of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Islam may thus have been introduced into Somalia well before the faith even took root in its place of origin.
In addition, the Somali community has produced numerous important Islamic sheikhs and clerics over the centuries, many of whom have significantly shaped the course of Muslim learning and practice in the Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and well beyond. Among these Islamic scholars is the 14th-century Somali theologian and jurist Uthman bin Ali Zayla'i of Zeila, who wrote the single most authoritative text on the Hanafi school of Islam, consisting of four volumes known as the Tabayin al-Haqa'iq li Sharh Kanz al-Daqa'iq.
Christianity is a minority religion in Somalia, with adherents representing less than 0.1% of the population in 2010 according to the Pew Research Center. There is one Catholic diocese for the whole country, the Diocese of Mogadishu, which estimates that there were only about 100 Catholic practitioners in 2004.
In 1913, during the early part of the colonial era, there were virtually no Christians in the Somali territories, with only about 100–200 followers coming from the schools and orphanages of the few Catholic missions in the British Somaliland protectorate. There were also no known Catholic missions in Italian Somaliland during the same period. In the 1970s, during the reign of Somalia's then Marxist government, church-run schools were closed and missionaries sent home. There has been no archbishop in the country since 1989, and the cathedral in Mogadishu was severely damaged during the civil war. In December 2013, the Ministry of Justice and Religious Affairs also released a directive prohibiting the celebration of Christian festivities in the country.
According to the Pew Research Center, less than 0.1% of Somalia's population in 2010 were adherents of folk religions. These mainly consisted of some non-Somali ethnic minority groups in the southern parts of the country, who practice animism. In the case of the Bantu, these religious traditions were inherited from their ancestors in Southeast Africa.
Until the collapse of the federal government in 1991, the organizational and administrative structure of Somalia's healthcare sector was overseen by the Ministry of Health. Regional medical officials enjoyed some authority, but healthcare was largely centralized. The socialist government of former President of Somalia Siad Barre had put an end to private medical practice in 1972. Much of the national budget was devoted to military expenditure, leaving few resources for healthcare, among other services.
Somalia's public healthcare system was largely destroyed during the ensuing civil war.
Comparing the 2005–2010 period with the half-decade just prior to the outbreak of the conflict (1985–1990), life expectancy actually increased from an average of 47 years for men and women to 48.2 years for men and 51.0 years for women. Similarly, the number of one-year-olds fully immunized against measles rose from 30% in 1985–1990 to 40% in 2000–2005, and for tuberculosis, it grew nearly 20% from 31% to 50% over the same period.
The number of infants with low birth weight fell from 16 per 1000 to 0.3, a 15% drop in total over the same timeframe.
According to United Nations Population Fund data on the midwifery workforce, there is a total of 429 midwives (including nurse-midwives) in Somalia, with a density of 1 midwife per 1,000 live births. Eight midwifery institutions presently exist in the country, two of which are private. Midwifery education programs on average last from 12 to 18 months, and operate on a sequential basis. The number of student admissions per total available student places is a maximum 100%, with 180 students enrolled as of 2009. Midwifery is regulated by the government, and a license is required to practice professionally. A live registry is also in place to keep track of licensed midwives. In addition, midwives in the country are officially represented by a local midwives association, with 350 registered members.
According to a 2005 World Health Organization estimate, about 97.9% of Somalia's women and girls underwent Female genital mutilation, a pre-marital custom mainly endemic to Northeast Africa and parts of the Near East. Encouraged by women in the community, it is primarily intended to protect chastity, deter promiscuity, and offer protection from assault. By 2013, UNICEF in conjunction with the Somali authorities reported that the prevalence rate among 1- to 14-year-old girls in the autonomous northern Puntland and Somaliland regions had dropped to 25% following a social and religious awareness campaign. About 93% of Somalia's male population is also reportedly circumcised.
Somalia has one of the lowest HIV infection rates on the continent. This is attributed to the Muslim nature of Somali society and adherence of Somalis to Islamic morals. While the estimated HIV prevalence rate in Somalia in 1987 (the first case report year) was 1% of adults, a 2012 report from UNAIDS says that since 2004, estimates from 0.7% to 1% have been assumed.
Although healthcare is now largely concentrated in the private sector, the country's public healthcare system is in the process of being rebuilt, and is overseen by the Ministry of Health.
Some of the prominent healthcare facilities in the country are East Bardera Mothers and Children's Hospital, Abudwak Maternity and Children's Hospital, Edna Adan Maternity Hospital and West Bardera Maternity Unit.
Following the outbreak of the civil war in 1991, the task of running schools in Somalia was initially taken up by community education committees established in 94% of the local schools.
The Ministry of Education is officially responsible for education in Somalia, and oversees the nation's primary, secondary, technical and vocational schools, as well as primary and technical teacher training and non-formal education. About 15% of the government's budget is allocated toward scholastic instruction. The autonomous Puntland and Somaliland macro-regions maintain their own Ministries of Education.
In 2006, Puntland was the second territory in Somalia after Somaliland to introduce free primary schools, with teachers now receiving their salaries from the Puntland administration.
Higher education in Somalia is now largely private.
Qu'ranic schools (also known as dugsi quran or mal'aamad quran) remain the basic system of traditional religious instruction in Somalia. They provide Islamic education for children, thereby filling a clear religious and social role in the country. Known as the most stable local, non-formal system of education providing basic religious and moral instruction, their strength rests on community support and their use of locally made and widely available teaching materials. The Qu'ranic system, which teaches the greatest number of students relative to other educational sub-sectors, is often the only system accessible to Somalis in nomadic as compared to urban areas. A study from 1993 found, among other things, that about 40% of pupils in Qur'anic schools were girls. To address shortcomings in religious instruction, the Somali government on its own part also subsequently established the Ministry of Endowment and Islamic Affairs, under which Qur'anic education is now regulated.
The cuisine of Somalia varies from region to region is a mixture of diverse culinary influences. It is the product of Somalia's rich tradition of trade and commerce. Despite the variety, there remains one thing that unites the various regional cuisines: all food is served halal. There are therefore no pork dishes, alcohol is not served, nothing that died on its own is eaten, and no blood is incorporated. Qaddo or lunch is often elaborate.
Varieties of bariis (rice), the most popular probably being basmati, usually act as the main dish. Spices including cumin, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and garden sage are used to aromatize these different rice dishes. Somalis serve dinner as late as 9 pm. During Ramadan, supper is often presented after Tarawih prayers; sometimes up to 11 pm.
Xalwo (halva) is a popular confection reserved for special festive occasions, such as Eid celebrations or wedding receptions. It is made from corn starch, sugar, cardamom powder, nutmeg powder and ghee. Peanuts are also sometimes added to enhance texture and flavour. After meals, homes are traditionally perfumed using frankincense (lubaan) or incense (cuunsi), which is prepared inside an incense burner referred to as a dabqaad
Somalia has a rich musical heritage centred on traditional Somali folklore. Most Somali songs are pentatonic. That is, they only use five pitches per octave in contrast to a heptatonic (seven note) scale like the major scale. At first listen, Somali music might be mistaken for the sounds of nearby regions such as Ethiopia, Sudan or the Arabian Peninsula, but it is ultimately recognizable by its own unique tunes and styles. Somali songs are usually the product of collaboration between lyricists (midho), songwriters (laxan) and singers (codka or "voice").
Somali scholars have for centuries produced many notable examples of Islamic literature ranging from poetry to Hadith. With the adoption of the Latin alphabet in 1972 as the nation's standard orthography, numerous contemporary Somali authors have also released novels, some of which have gone on to receive worldwide acclaim. Of these modern writers, Nuruddin Farah is probably the most celebrated. Books such as From a Crooked Rib and Links are considered important literary achievements, works that have earned Farah, among other accolades, the 1998 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. Faarax M.J. Cawl is another prominent Somali writer who is perhaps best known for his Dervish era novel, Ignorance is the enemy of love.
Basketball is also played in the country. The FIBA Africa Championship 1981 was hosted in Mogadishu from 15 to 23 December December 1981, during which the national basketball team received the bronze medal. The squad also takes part in the basketball event at the Pan Arab Games.
In the martial arts, Faisal Jeylani Aweys and Mohamed Deq Abdulle of the national taekwondo team took home a silver medal and fourth place, respectively, at the 2013 Open World Taekwondo Challenge Cup in Tongeren. The Somali Olympic Committee has devised a special support program to ensure continued success in future tournaments. Additionally, Mohamed Jama has won both world and European titles in K-1 and Thai Boxing.
Somali architecture is a rich and diverse tradition of engineering and design involving multiple types of constructions and edifices, such as stone cities, castles, citadels, fortresses, mosques, mausoleums, temples, towers, monuments, cairns, megaliths, menhirs, dolmens, tombs, tumuli, steles, cisterns, aqueducts and lighthouses. Spanning the country's ancient, medieval and early modern periods, it also embraces the fusion of Somalo-Islamic architecture with contemporary Western designs.
In ancient Somalia, pyramidical structures known in Somali as taalo were a popular burial style, with hundreds of these dry stone monuments scattered around the country today. Houses were built of dressed stone similar to the ones in ancient Egypt. There are also examples of courtyards and large stone walls enclosing settlements, such as the Wargaade Wall.
The adoption of Islam in Somalia's early medieval history brought Islamic architectural influences from Arabia and Persia. This stimulated a shift in construction from drystone and other related materials to coral stone, sundried bricks, and the widespread use of limestone in Somali architecture. Many of the new architectural designs, such as mosques, were built on the ruins of older structures, a practice that would continue over and over again throughout the following centuries.